The multi-million dollar overhaul of Colorado’s benefits management system has started showing returns, Governor Bill Ritter announced last week. The “self-service” website, called Colorado.gov/benefits, is part of the Program Eligibility and Application Kit (PEAK), and it promises to be the first of many improvements for the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS).
PEAK is a collaborative effort between the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing and the Department of Human Services. Gov. Ritter said the newly launched Web portal will, “streamline government, allowing us to deliver services more efficiently than ever through the increased use of technology.”
Earlier this year, Colorado’s Office of Information Technology (OIT) announced it was going to overhaul the state’s assistance benefits computer system. The $200 million Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS) is responsible for managing the state’s food stamp recipients, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF), welfare, Medicaid, and other public assistance programs.
In June, OIT issued a solicitation to find an interim director to oversee the project’s deployment and work with primary vendor, Deloitte LLP, who replaced Electronic Data Systems (EDS). By the end of June, William Browning, founder of Denver-based Rebound Solutions, was hired for the position and work began to cleans the data in preparation for system-wide improvements. In an interview from June 29, OIT Deputy State Chief Information Officer John Conley said, “[Mr. Browning] is doing away with the silos fashion of service delivery. We’re looking holistically at an internal team and matrix management approach.”
Deloitte performed similar work for New York’s myBenefits and Wisconsin’s ACCESS websites, which should be of benefit for the state, Mr. Conley says. “We are not developing from scratch. We’re leveraging their knowledge base and designs that are already in the works and configuring them for the state of Colorado.”
The first stage, expected to be done by the end of the year, is to develop a Web-based application that will enable citizens to apply for benefits from anywhere by logging on to the Internet. The portal will help individuals check eligibility for a range of public assistance, including food assistance, cash assistance, Colorado Works, Medicaid or the Child Health Plan Plus program. Additionally, PEAK allows existing clients to check the status of their benefits and view future benefits.
“This new tool is all about access and improving opportunities for people to apply for benefits like food assistance, for which demand is soaring,” Colorado Department of Human Services Executive Director, Karen L. Beye, said in a statement.
According to state officials, beginning spring 2010, the state intends to expand the existing website by allowing clients the ability to complete an application for benefits online through PEAK.